Members of Cambridgeshire’s General Purpose’s committee (GPC) will be asked to agree next steps for devolved power in our area - moving a further two key areas from central government control.
If agreed, this will see the Combined Authority – rather than Central Government – taking key responsibility for boosting adult education and skills for the people of Cambridgeshire, along with taking control of its multi million pound budget – and the ability to levy business rates locally.
At its meeting on May 29 GPC will be asked to agree the transfer of Department for Education (DfE) funding for adult education in the county to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) and the power for the CA to levy Business Rate supplements.
This move would regularise areas agreed in 2016 as part of the Devolution Deal for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough - but which now must be formally approved by all its constituent authorities - the County, city and district councils in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
“This is another step for us on a path we began when we led the way on forging a devolution deal with Government back in 2016” said Cllr Steve Count, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council.
“It means more local control in particular for creating the sort of skills training we need to help adults in our county play their part in, and reap rewards from, our burgeoning economy.”
Business rate levy
- The original CPCA devolution deal included a commitment to raise a business rate levy which should have been included in the LG Finance Bill 2017, but the Bill was ‘lost’ due to the 2017 general election.
- The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has now asked the Combined Authority and others to agree to the making of the order.
Any money raised in this way can’t be used for day-to-day costs for services the CA has to provide. The Mayor would have to consult on any proposals, which would then need approval by the majority of ratepayers and businesses affected. It would only affect those business properties with a rateable value of more than £50,000.
Adult Education Budget
- The order which established the Combined Authority contained details of a number of Adult Education powers which would transfer to the CA, but didn’t deal with the devolution of funding
- The Combined Authority needs to meet ‘readiness’ criteria before the budget can be transferred.
The budget of some £21.9 million from 2019 across both Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is to fund Further Education to learners aged 19+, particularly for those who lack specific qualifications such as in English and Maths, or where the learners have special needs and to work with employers to promote such qualifications.
The new order will not cover apprenticeships, adult offender learning or provision for people aged 16 -18.
The Constituent Councils have to give consent for the:
- Business Rates Levy by the end of May, with the Statutory Instrument being in place by June/July.
- Adult Education Budget by July, and it is expected that the Statutory Instrument will be in place by November in time for the 2019/20 academic year.